Humanitas Names Prize Finalists

Writers on the feature films "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," "Crash" and "Glory Road" and the TV series "ER," "House" and "My Name Is Earl" were among the finalists announced Monday for this year's Humanitas Prize.

The prize, now in its 32nd year, honors film and TV writers whose work "honestly explores the complexities of the human experience and sheds light on the positive values of life." Thirty-three writers were named in eight categories.

In the feature film category, which bestows a $25,000 prize, the finalists are screenwriters Ann Peacock and Andrew Adamson and Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely for Walt Disney Pictures' "Narnia"; Paul Haggis & Bobby Moresco for Lionsgate's "Crash"; and Christopher Cleveland & Bettina Gilois for Disney's "Glory Road."

HBO scored two of three mentions in the 90-minute TV category, which also carries a $25,000 prize. The finalists in that race include Richard Curtis for the network's "The Girl in the Cafe" and Margaret Nagle for "Warm Springs." Rounding out the category is Stephen Harrigan for Hallmark Channel's "The Colt."

Meanwhile, writers on NBC shows netted four of six mentions between the 60- and 30-minute TV categories. In the 60-minute category, which carries a $15,000 prize, the finalists are Janine Sherman Barrois, writer of the "Darfur" episode of NBC's "ER"; David Shore for the "Three Stories" episode of Fox's "House"; and Jonathan Greene, writer of the "Ripped" episode of NBC's "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit."

In the 30-minute category, worth $10,000, the finalists are Jim Hope, writer of the "George Lopez" episode titled "The Kidney Stays in the Picture" on ABC; Greg Garcia for the pilot of NBC's "My Name Is Earl"; and Garrett Donovan & Neil Goldman, who wrote the "My Way Home" episode of NBC's "Scrubs."

The children's animation and live-action categories are worth $25,000 each. Finalists in the animation race are Jonathan Greenberg for the "Miguel's Wonderful Life" episode of PBS' "Maya & Miguel"; Alice Prodanou, Michael Stokes and Steven Sullivan for the "A Froggy Day in Sunny Patch" episode of Nick Jr.'s "Miss Spider's Sunny Patch Friends"; and Pamela Hickey & Dennys McCoy for the "Benny's Missing Chew Toy" episode of Discovery Kids/TLC's "Toddworld."

The children's live-action finalists are Willy Holtzman for Showtime's "Edge of America," Anna Sandor for WB Network's "Felicity: An American Girl Adventure" and Peter Barsocchini for Disney Channel's "High School Musical."

Finalists in the Sundance feature film category, which has a $10,000 prize, are Tanuj Chopra & Hart Eddy for "Punching at the Sun," Richard Glatzer & Wash Westmoreland for Sony Pictures Classics' "Quinceanera" and Goran Dukic for "Wristcutters: A Love Story."

Meanwhile, Colin Marshall, a student in Columbia University's graduate writing program, has been tapped for the David & Lynn Angell Fellowship in Comedy Writing, worth $10,000, for his "My Name Is Earl" spec script titled "My Name Is Santa."

Chris Donahue, executive director of the Humanitas Prize, noted the overall significance of this year's honorees.

"Pessimists who proclaim that there is nothing good or worthwhile on television or in movie theaters need to look no further than these productions," he said. "The stories that these writers have generated should have all of us asking questions about our own lives."

The prizes will be handed out June 28 at a luncheon at the Universal Hilton. HBO Films president Colin Callender, recipient of the 2006 Keiser Award, will deliver the keynote speech.

"Writers can write the best scripts, but if someone doesn't give them the green light, the story will never get off the page," Humanitas Prize president Frank Desiderio said. "Colin Callender has consistently developed movies that shine a light on the human condition."

Kimberly Nordyke writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

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